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The final few matches of the BNP Paribas Open are set following exciting action in Indian Wells, California, over the last few days. Some of the world’s best have put on a show as they try to win the first Masters 1000 tournament of the year.
A new champion is set to be crowned in the men’s division after Taylor Fritz was eliminated in his quarterfinal matchup against Jannik Sinner in three sets Thursday. And with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic—a five-time winner—having withdrawn from the tournament ahead of the draw, it will be a first-time winner as well.
The women’s final will have a similar feeling after a shocking semifinal result with defending champion and world No. 1 Iga Świątek knocked out by Elena Rybakina.
Aryna Sabalenka might walk through that door, as her dominant 2023 continued with a straight-sets win over Maria Sakkari in the semifinals. A title at Indian Wells could lead to a big shake-up in the world rankings.
This isn’t the match many were expecting, as Rybakina crashed the party of what seemed destined to be a showdown between Świątek and Sabalenka.
Rybakina, 23, beat the world’s best in straight sets, allowing her to win only four games. She is only the second player to beat Świątek twice since Świątek rose to No. 1 nearly a year ago.
But now she’ll have to face arguably the best player in the world based on form in Sabalenka, who has had a torrid start to the year and who has beaten her in all four previous matches.
Sabalenka, right behind Świątek at No. 2 in the world, has lost just once in 18 matches in 2023. She’ll be looking to win her fifth Masters 1000 championship.
With her dominant play of late, Sabalenka has an opportunity to take over that top spot in the world rankings.
Of the two semifinals, this will likely get the most attention, not only because it involves two of the elite young talents in the sport but also because of the bigger picture involving Carlos Alcaraz.
Alcaraz, 19, is the No. 2 player in the world. With Djokovic’s absence, he has an opportunity to reclaim the title of world’s best by winning the tournament and continuing his strong start to 2023. He won the Argentina Open and reached the final of the Rio Open.
If he fails to win, Djokovic will remain No. 1.
It won’t be an easy matchup for the Spaniard, however, as Sinner is coming off a big win over Fritz, who is ranked No. 5, and has one of the best forehands in the ATP.
Alcaraz and Sinner have split their previous four meetings. The most recent matchup came in the quarterfinals of the 2022 U.S. Open, which Alcaraz won en route to winning the tournament and bursting onto the international scene.
That match was the only one played on an outdoor hard surface, so Alcaraz may have an advantage at Indian Wells.
There may be no better player on the planet right now than Daniil Medvedev, who hasn’t lost a match since Jan. 20 and who won the Rotterdam Open, Qatar Open and Dubai Open.
Ranked No. 6, Medvedev has lost just two matches this year and is looking to win his fifth Masters 1000 tournament.
He’ll have the crowd against him, however, as he takes on Frances Tiafoe, who is the final American left in the competition and is seeking his first Masters 1000 title.
Like Alcaraz and Sinner, Medvedev and Tiafoe have met four previous times, but they have lopsided results. Medvedev has won every time, most recently beating the 25-year-old at the Masters 1000 Miami in 2021 in straight sets.
With Medvedev in such great form, it’s hard to imagine Tiafoe will be able to spring the upset Saturday.
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